This is definitely one of those dishes that tastes better the next day.
In fact, I ate this cold straight from the fridge but then I am as urbane and sophisticated as a NASCAR pit man.
The recipe sorta emerged at the end of November when it suddenly occurred to me the next six weeks were going to be filled with booze, rich foods and nary a vegetable in between.
Hence it seemed like a last chance to get some vitamins in before being crushed underfoot by the jingling hooves of festive obesity.
So yes, it’s probably not something I would cook right now but you know what? The southern hemisphere is going into autumn. They can look into it.
- 1 butternut squash. Large.
- 3 brown onions. Sliced.
- 1 can of cherry tomatoes. Or plum with a teaspoon of sugar.
- A finger of peeled garlic. And I think you know which finger.
- 650ml of Bouillon. Or vegetable stock. Potentially chicken stock by why ruin the virtue/smugness or an otherwise vegetarian meal?
- 1 green chili. That’s all I had. Next time I might do a whole dried red one instead.
- 3 garlic cloves. Sounds like a lot. Is a lot. Still works.
- 100g red lentils.
- 1 tablespoon ground coriander. Use whole coriander seeds and grind them if you have them because you’ll need to grind the next ingredient.
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin. Grind. It. Your. Self.
- 2 tablespoons garam masala.
- A few whole cardamom seeds. For the rice.
- Wholegrain basmati rice to serve. I accidentally bought wholegrain rather than brown rice. When I make this again it will be brown rice. Which appears to be a different thing.
- Chopped coriander to serve. Optional.
1. I did all the prep work beforehand as is my way and found that I got really bored waiting for things to cook. (It was a no-booze night.) So do as I say, not as I do.
Heat some oil in a large shallow pan, throw in the ground spices until they sizzle and then follow them with the onions in a large pan on very low heat with some salt for at least fifteen minutes. This is one of those dishes that require your onions to shine. So give them their time.
About half way through, throw in the chopped chili, garlic and ginger. Stir every so often.
2. Use this time to prep everything else. Peel the squash.
Chop it into chunks, de-seed and then chop into medium size irregular chunks.
Rinse and drain the lentils.
3. Once the onions look like this it’s time to throw in the irregularly shaped squash chunks and red lentils. (Appetising, non?)
Stir to coat and then cook for about two minutes.
4. Pour in the stock and the can of tomatoes.
Cover and simmer for twenty five minutes. Then simmer uncovered for at least ten to reduce slightly.
The timings here are as long as you need them to be. And you need them to be long enough to cook your rice via the absorption method as per your packet instructions but with a few cracked cardamom seeds thrown into the water.
5. A few minutes before serving, if you have prepared way too much coriander then stir it through. Taste and season if necessary.
Take the pan off the heat and let cool for a few minutes. I’m really coming round to the idea that most vegetarian meals (and all meals containing aubergine) shouldn’t be served piping hot because the temperature blows out some of those low notes.
When the rice is ready, serve on your cheapest, blurriest plates!
Serves thousands. Or more specifically three for dinner and one for lunch/periodic fridge raids for two more days.